Daily News 9/9/2000
Artist: I'm A Victim Of Skeeter Spraying
"She wanted to make a phone call. Instead, a Manhattan woman standing near a phone booth on Eighth Ave. Sunday ended up in the hospital after she said she was drenched, point-blank, with a blast of pesticide intended to kill mosquitoes carrying West Nile virus. "It burned. It itched. I was coughing, I was choking," said the woman, an artist who lives in Inwood but asked that her name be withheld. "My vision is blurry. I have terrible nausea. I threw up three days in a row," she said. It was "a straight shot into my face, my eyes, my nose, my mouth - drenching me. I really thought I was going to die."
Daily News 9/8/2000
Asthma-Like Illness Spurs Spray Probe
By MICHAEL R. BLOOD
"Four cases of reported pesticide poisoning in New York State are being investigated to see whether they may be linked to spraying for mosquitoes carrying the West Nile virus, state officials said yesterday...The state probe comes as the city Health Department is quietly beginning its own survey that will examine whether the pesticide has sickened New Yorkers...The city's survey seems in contrast with the repeated assurances from Mayor Giuliani, as well as many medical experts, that the pesticides being used to kill mosquitoes are safe...The city declined to disclose any information gathered so far for the study. Since the virus appeared in New York last year, this is the first time the city has undertaken a study to assess the potential health risks of pesticides. As of late August, more than 860 gallons of Anvil had been sprayed in New York."
STATEN ISLAND ADVANCE
"Helicopters that city officials said would only spray over "unpopulated areas" instead spewed their pesticide cloud over surprised and frightened Islanders yesterday. Hundreds of children playing on football and baseball fields in Travis had to dodge the mist...The city has said that helicopter spraying takes place during daylight hours so pilots can avoid populated or environmentally sensitive areas. How they failed to recognize a golf course, youth ball fields and the residential area near High Rock Park -- all areas where people claimed choppers doused them last night -- remains unclear..."The helicopter flew by four times. I think the borough president needs to get a call," said Kathleen Collins of West Brighton, who was watching her 8-year-old son, Michael, play. She said she sat in her car, cradling her 1-month-old daughter, Kayla, during the dousing. "This is a field full of children -- and many of them aren't even playing." It was unclear last night who in city government, if anyone, is responsible for notifying specific youth leagues or public recreation areas -- like city-owned LaTourette Golf Course, where complaints from pesticide-covered golfers were heard -- that they are in or near a spray zone...But Borough President Guy V. Molinari said the Health Department "never asked us to notify anyone." He said the notion of contacting every league is "outrageous." "We just don't have the resources and staff to do this," said the borough president. "All we can do is take information from the Health Department and relay it to the public."
5/4/2001 NY Post
W. NILE TACTICS SHIFT AWAY FROM JUST SPRAY
-- The city's war against the West Nile virus will rage on this summer - with less pesticide spraying, but stiff fines for those who let mosquitoes breed. Mayor Giuliani and city officials unveiled their battle plan yesterday, announcing that emergency regulations enacted last year making water accumulations a public health nuisance will be vigorously enforced. The first summons - fines range from $200 to $2,000 - has been issued to a contractor on the old Alexander's site on East 59th Street. Officials said warnings to remove a standing pool of water there - a breeding ground for the disease-spreading mosquitoes - were ignored. For the last two years, officials have rushed to blanket neighborhoods with a pesticide haze any time a dead bird infected with the mosquito-borne virus turned up. Pesticides were used to cover a two-mile radius, about as far as a mosquito could fly. But City Health Commissioner Dr. Neal Cohen said new data indicates a one-mile spraying radius is sufficient - and even that would be a last resort. "We have to not look to spraying as a panacea, but look to prevention," Cohen said. The city's top health official said when infected birds are detected this year, rapid response teams would move in to "take all preventive and reduction measures," such as spreading larvicide and removing pools of water. Only if the population of human-biting mosquitoes increases would the city begin spraying in "targeted" green areas, such as parks and golf courses. "While last year we had a formulaic and somewhat reflexive approach . . . this year we're going to look very carefully to determine where the greatest risk to people is," Cohen said. He insisted the change was made "based upon the science. It doesn't have any bearing whether certain individuals are pro- or anti-spraying."
NY Times 5/4/2001
City to Look Beyond Spraying for West Nile
"To reduce the reliance on pesticides in the battle against West Nile virus, the city will use a more conservative, concentrated approach to spraying this summer, officials said yesterday. Last year, the city generally sprayed pesticides within a two- mile radius of any location where infection was found in birds or mosquitoes. This year, officials said, the city plans to emphasize monitoring, public education and prevention. For example, it will enforce a ban on standing water and use larvicide to reduce mosquito populations...Dr. Neal L. Cohen, the city's health commissioner, said they could not predict how prevalent the virus would be. "We do know that all these preventive measures make a very important difference," he said, "and we really have to not look to spraying as a panacea, but look to prevention as the way to minimize the need to spray." Instead of spraying widely wherever the virus is detected, Dr. Cohen said, team will investigate communities where dead birds or infected mosquitoes are found to determine whether spraying is necessary."
Daily News 1/26/2001
Victims of Anvil Spray Had No Place to Hide
by Juan Gonzalez.
On the night of Sept. 11, a work crew from the city Department of Transportation was spray-painting new double-yellow lines along the middle of 53rd St. near Flatlands Ave. in Brooklyn. Around 11 p.m., one of the spray nozzles on the painting vehicle became clogged, so crew member Ricardo Rosa, who was directing traffic, walked over to clear it. As he finished, he noticed a police car approaching slowly. Its top lights were flashing, and a pickup truck was trailing behind. He realized too late that the second vehicle was a mosquito-spray truck. "Before I could even stop them, they passed right by and sprayed us," Rosa said. "The cops never said a thing on their bullhorn." The men in the crew shrugged and kept painting stripes. Because they were headed in the same direction as the truck, they drove into foul clouds of Anvil mist for several blocks.
The next day, Rosa, who is 39 and physically trim and loves to work out, went to play his weekly round of paddleball. "I noticed I was short of breath," he said. "All my stamina was gone. After a couple of games, I had to quit." The problem persisted, so Rosa visited his primary-care doctor in early October and was shocked to learn he had asthma. "I'd never had asthma before," he said. "I don't even smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol."
All this made him suspicious about the spray used against the West Nile virus. So he went
to Mount Sinai Medical Center's Irving J. Selikoff Occupational Health Clinical Center.
"Occupational asthma" caused by exposure to the pesticide Anvil, the doctors concluded
after analyzing results of the pulmonary function and stress tests. They recommended that he be approved for a partial disability by the state Workers' Compensation Board.
Rosa, who has been employed at DOT for 10 years, now carries two asthma sprays. He has kept working on the street crews but says: "I can't work as hard as I used to." Most people would be surprised that a one-time exposure to a pesticide can bring on chronic asthma. But it doesn't surprise Dr. Irwin Berlin, chief of pulmonary medicine at Trinitas Hospital in Elizabeth, N.J.
Several of the ingredients that help make Anvil effective are "skin and lung allergens and
can cause respiratory reactions," Berlin said. The pesticide, in effect, can trigger asthma in people who may be predisposed to the disease, said Dr. Mitchell Rubin, assistant director of medicine at Metropolitan Hospital and an expert in childhood asthma.
As this column reported Wednesday, at least six men who worked in the city's Anvil spraying campaign last summer say they've been plagued by ailments that include
fatigue, severe headaches, difficulty breathing, loss of hair, nausea and even sexual dysfunction.
The men charge Clarke Environmental Mosquito Management, the city contractor
that hired them, didn't train them in how to spray the pesticide and failed to protect
them. The company says it followed state and federal requirements in the training and supervision of its crews. Meanwhile, state officials have confirmed investigating at least 14 cases statewide of people who reported poisoning from exposure to pesticides, mostly Anvil. That also happens to be the number of people who got sick from West Nile virus last year.
While safety officials and the medical experts continue to investigate these very real concerns, we have Mayor Giuliani casually dismissing the whole matter. "Anvil is very safe," Giuliani said Wednesday. "Obviously, it's not safe if you go right up next to it and breathe it in. ..."
Ricardo Rosa, like many people in this city, didn't have much choice in the matter.
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